How to Hide the Emperor's Child - Chapter 108
“What did you do?”
Kaizen looked at the girl standing in front of him with an absurd expression as if he had never heard such ridiculous words before.
The others had similarly absurd expressions.
Naen repeated the hastily prepared lines.
Florin wrote down these lines and asked her to memorize them.
“I-I have committed a sin, Your Majesty. I-I beg your forgiveness……”
Naen diligently confessed that she had been spying on the duke’s family.
And she got the secret letter while spying on the duke’s family.
As soon as she saw it, she was so surprised and sent it to the imperial palace without telling her father.
The reason for spying on the duke’s family in the first place was that she had a grudge against the empress over the affairs of her mother and oldest sister.
Her second sister and father were completely ignorant of it.
And she never thought the secret letter was fake.
That’s what all Naen said.
Even though Naen spoke earnestly, the listeners didn’t seem to believe her.
Some derided her openly, and some looked bewildered.
The bewildered people were astonished by Marquis Croychen’s act of using his youngest daughter as a shield.
No one will believe a middle-aged Minister of State when he says he made a false accusation by mistake.
However, if a seventeen-year-old young lady, who had not yet reached adulthood, accidentally got a fake secret letter and sent it to the imperial palace, it could be argued that it was the behavior of an immature teenage girl.
Of course, none of the nobles in this position would seriously believe this nonsense.
Astelle took everyone’s attention and stepped forward.
Naen looked at Astelle with frightened eyes.
“Then, were you the first to open the envelope with the secret letter?”
“Yes? Yes, yes, of course.”
At the sudden question, Naen stuttered in dismay and answered clearly again, “Yes, Your Majesty the Empress. I opened it myself.”
“Then you must have read the secret letter, right?”
“Yes, I did.”
Before coming to the palace, Florin told her everything about the secret letter.
Naen desperately recalled what her older sister had told.
Whatever the empress will ask, Naen is confident that she can answer all of them.
Astelle asked in a calm tone, “Then do you remember how the letter was folded?”
“It was folded in a pretty unique way, don’t you remember?”
In the empire, specifically among the socialite ladies, there were many different ways of folding letters.
Just as each small gesture of folding and unfolding a fan gives meaning to each other, each method of folding a letter had a different meaning.
Naen was perplexed.
Florin told her everything that was written in the secret letter including how to read the code, but she didn’t tell her how the paper was folded.
Naen couldn’t answer Astelle’s question.
Kaizen, who was watching the two, rebuked coldly, “Why can’t you answer the question if you read the letter?”
“Y-your Majesty, t-that……”
Naen’s plump white cheeks turned white pitifully.
But she kept insisting that she was the one who sent the secret letter.
“I did send it. I really sent it……”
Naen cried and begged earnestly.
She looks like she’s only about sixteen or seventeen years old.
Astelle was not close to the Croychen family, but she had never heard anything strange about this third daughter.
Astelle thought, ‘Looks like she’s not loved very much in the family.’
Astelle felt sorry for Naen.
She wanted to punish Florin for perjury.
She didn’t expect Florin to use her young sister as a shield.
Naen was a quiet young noble lady who didn’t even appear in social circles and lived only in the mansion.
‘Who would believe that this young girl forged the secret letter?’
It’s not a big sin if you get a suspicious secret letter and secretly send it to the imperial palace.
And if a young noble lady who had not yet reached adulthood was punished for that reason, it would not be good for Astelle and the Duke’s reputation.
Astelle pondered for a moment, but Kaizen responded as if he had nothing to hear anymore.
“Take her out.”
The guard knights came closer to drag Naen away.
Astelle made a quick decision after a brief deliberation.
“Your Majesty, the young lady here seems to have misunderstood the situation.”
She bowed her head to Kaizen and spoke politely.
She said, “The young lady must have been shocked when she suddenly got the secret letter. It is understandable that she sent it to the imperial palace secretly without seeing its contents properly.”
“I think so.”
Kaizen also seemed to have noticed Astelle’s thoughts.
“I think it’s someone else who forged the secret letter.”
Astelle continued, “Perhaps it was a cunning person who tried to frame my family by deliberately forging a secret letter to take advantage of an innocent young lady of a marquis family by leaking it to her.”
It was his father, the Duke of Reston, who made a fake secret letter and leaked it to the marquis.
For a moment, a smirk appeared on Kaizen’s face.
Astelle looked a little embarrassed and looked away from him.
“But my family and I almost got into trouble because of Miss Naen’s rash actions, so I can’t forgive her.”
As Naen listened to their conversation, she was trembling with fear.
Astelle turned to Naen and looked back at Kaizen.
“So, until the culprit is found, please leave Miss Naen’s punishment to me, Your Majesty.”
At Astelle’s request, there was an icy silence in the room.
Even the ministers who were watching the situation silently looked at Astelle with puzzled looks, as if predicting what atrocities the empress would commit.
Naen became even more trembling and frightened than when the emperor’s guard knights approached her before.
‘Do I look so cruel?’
Everyone seemed to be thinking of a terrible situation when Astelle said she would punish the young lady herself.
But Kaizen unhesitatingly gave the order, “Okay. Kill her or keep her alive, it’s up to you.”
Theor was in a small study, bathed in warm sunlight.
In the morning, Theor drew on white paper with the paint that Hannah had brought him.
“You draw well.”
Astelle’s maternal grandfather, the Marquis of Carlenberg, who was next to him, admired his painting.
In the painting, Theor, Astelle, and the marquis are drawn side by side.
Beside Theor are Blynn and Levin the teddy bear.
Even though it’s a rather clunky drawing, it’s a great drawing skill for a five-year-old.
The details of Blynn’s golden hair and Astelle’s dress are well expressed.
“Our Theor has a good observation.”
Theory dipped the brush in the paint again and drew another person in one corner.
It was a tall man in black.
“Who is this?”
“His Majesty the Emperor.”
Kaizen was in a corner far away from the three of them.
Kaizen, who is painted with black hair and red eyes, is very similar to Theor.
The marquis smiled bitterly.
Theor is a lot like Kaizen.
‘It can’t be helped because they are father and son.’
He also looks like Astelle, but he looks more like Kaizen.
Maybe when he grows up, he will really be exactly like Kaizen.
“Do you like living in the palace, Theor?”
“Yes, I do. It’s spacious here, I can eat delicious sweets, and there is a pony……”
Theor counted the good points of living in the palace one by one with his fingers, and suddenly paused.
Theor lowered his hand.
There was a sullen look on his little face.
“But I don’t think my mother likes it here.”
“My mom doesn’t look happy after coming here.”
Really, your observation skills are too good.
“Can’t we go back to our house with Mom, too?”
The marquis pondered for a moment and said, “We can’t. Your mother is now married to the emperor and became the empress. So she has to live here.”
Astelle had told the marquis about her marriage contract with Kaizen.
However, the marquis thought that Astelle would not be able to leave even after the contract period was over.
Also, she couldn’t possibly leave young Theor alone in the imperial palace and go to the countryside.
Fortunately, Theor quickly forgot the topic.
Theor picked up the brush again and was drawing trees and flowers on the paper.
While the marquis was relieved a little, Theor raised his head and asked again, “People get married to the person they love, right?”
Theor’s clear eyes looked at him with deep doubts.
“Mom and His Majesty got married in the past, but why do they assume it never happened?”
“What do you mean?”
“I heard that Mom and His Majesty remarried because they assumed their old marriage never happened.”
“Who said that?”
“The bad grandfather.”
That’s how Theor always called his maternal grandfather, Duke Reston.
Seriously, he’s probably the only person who can say something like that to a kid.
The maids and attendants of the empress’ palace were always careful with their words in front of Theor, as Astelle had clearly told them.
The marquis decided to ask Kaizen to ban the Duke of Reston from visiting.
“……it happened even before you were born. They both got married, and then you were born. But something happened in the middle, so for a while….., they were separated.”
The marquis couldn’t explain it in detail, so he tried to keep it as simple as possible.
Still, he didn’t want to lie to the kid who had already heard the truth.
He’ll find out someday anyway.
“Yes, I see.”
Fortunately, Theor seemed to understand the marquis’ explanation.
Theor, who finished painting the flower petals, raised his head and asked again, “Did my mom love His Majesty in the past?”